What will the Olympics be without Phelps?
August 19, 2008
BEIJING (AP) ” Welcome to the rest of the Beijing Olympics ” the Summer Games of 2008, A.P.
The games continued Monday in search of a new headliner now that Michael Phelps has toweled off for the last time. The Bird’s Nest seemed the likeliest place for someone to emerge and, indeed, the big news of the day came from the track.
However, it wasn’t good news. It was the sad sight of Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang limping to the starting blocks, trying to race through injuries and quickly finding out he couldn’t.
To understand how big a deal this is, you have to understand how big a deal he is.
Liu is China’s first-ever male gold medalist in track, having won the 110 meters in Athens. Folks have spent the last four years expecting him to do it again on home turf, and in this land of 1.3 billion people, he’s nearly as much of a celebrity ” not just sports star, full-fledged celebrity ” as their main man, Yao Ming.
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That’s why people inside the stadium cried. Why folks watching at subway stations gasped. Why his personal coach was too overcome with grief to speak at a news conference.
The Olympics, however, still went on Monday, without Liu or Phelps. At least there’s still Usain Bolt and his bid to become the first winner of the 100- and 200-meter races since Carl Lewis in 1984.
Bolt was second in his opening-round heat of the 200 in the morning, then easily won his quarterfinal heat at night, jogging down the stretch and still topping the reigning champ Shawn Crawford of the United States by several strides.
Other notable events included another rout by the U.S. men’s basketball and softball teams, a frustrating silver for gymnast Nastia Liukin and a bad break, in more ways than one, for U.S. cyclists.
Tie works against Liukin
It’s a good thing Liukin already won the all-around, because the way she got silver in the uneven bars is enough to drive a gal nuts.
Liukin and China’s He Kexin got the same score, requiring a tiebreaker because dual medals are no longer awarded in gymnastics. The details are pretty crazy; all that matters is He won and Liukin didn’t. He, by the way, is among the girls who many believe is too young to be eligible for these games.
This was Liukin’s fourth medal of the games, matching her dad’s haul when he competed for the Soviet Union.
U.S. finishes pool play 5-0
The “Redeem Team” keeps powering through the Olympics, crushing Dirk Nowitzki and Germany 106-57. Next up: A quarterfinals game against Australia, which gave the U.S. team its only close competition thus far in an exhibition game two weeks ago. The winner goes to the semifinals against the Argentina-Greece winner.
“We feel like we’re playing very well right now, but you have to keep in mind it’s single elimination,” Kobe Bryant said. “You can’t afford any slip-ups.”
China secured a spot in the medal round despite losing 91-77 to Greece. Yao Ming and his pals will next play Lithuania, while Spain will face Croatia, the winners of those games meeting in the other semifinal.
Yes, the meet is over, but Phelpsmania continues.
People magazine, The Hollywood Reporter and “Access Hollywood” were all represented at an appearance, with photographers piling on each other to capture his every move. There will be more appearances here until Thursday, when he’ll head to London to help in the handover from China to the 2012 host during Sunday’s closing ceremony.
He has taken time to hold all eight golds at once. What was it like? “Pretty cool,” he said.
U.S. routs China on diamond
The U.S. team beat China 9-1 in a game that featured rough play such as a home-plate collision that knocked out China’s top player, a retaliatory hit batsman and three ejections.
Also, American second baseman Jayson Nix ” still recovering from a foul ball off his left eye that resulted in surgery, stitches, bruises and fuzzy vision ” said he hopes to still return to Olympic play.
“If the doctors say he can go, he says he can go and (manager Davey Johnson) says he can go, he can go,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s executive director. “Time will tell, but he’s not a guy you write off.”
South Korea remained unbeaten with a wild 9-8 victory over Taiwan and Japan beat Canada 1-0.
Nine-run first carries softball team
Feel free to move on to the next section if the details of the latest U.S. rout bore you.
It was a nine-run first inning against the hostesses on the way to a 9-0 win over China, leaving the Americans two wins from another gold medal. Their win streak is up to 23; two more and they get another gold before their sport goes off the docket until at least 2016.
Up next is Japan, already a 7-0 loser to the U.S., although their ace was saved for the rematch.
Canada lost to Japan 6-0, but advanced to a semifinal game against Australia.
No all-American final
There won’t be an all-American men’s final.
Although top-ranked duo Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser rolled into the semifinals with a win over a German team, Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal lost to the defending Olympic champions from Brazil.
Next up for Rogers and Dalhausser is surprising Georgia on Wednesday.
U.S. to face Brazil in soccer finals
Get ready for a rematch. Just like 2004, the final will pit the United States and Brazil.
The Americans advanced by beating Japan 4-2. Brazil got there with a 4-1 victory over Germany.
Tough breaks for U.S. cyclers
The U.S. appears headed toward a second straight Olympics without any medals from the velodrome. American Sarah Hammer appears headed toward a layoff after breaking her left collarbone in a fall during the women’s points race. Jennie Reed also lost in the sprint quarterfinals.
Britain continued to dominate, knocking nearly 2 seconds off the world record it set a day earlier to win the men’s team pursuit. The medal gave Britain 12 golds for the Olympics so far, already its best showing since 1920. It also was its fifth gold medal in track cycling in Beijing.
World champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the women’s points race.
Mauritius is a tiny island nation 560 miles off the eastern coast of Madagascar. That’s worth knowing because it has produced a bantamweight medalist, although Bruno Julie isn’t done fighting.
Julie beat Venezuela’s Hector Manzanilla in the quarterfinals, securing no worse than bronze. Ukrainian featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko also clinched a medal with his third virtuoso performance of the Olympics, pounding China’s Li Yang.
Super heavyweight Zhang Zhilei knocked down Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Myrsatayev twice in a 12-2 victory that assured China of at least two boxing medals in Beijing after winning just one in its previous history.
Moldova bantamweight Veaceslav Gojan clinched his nation’s second boxing medal with an upset victory over India’s Akhil Kumar.
Cuba secured its fourth medal with bantamweight Yankiel Leon’s victory over Worapoj Petchkoom of Thailand, but Azerbaijan’s Shahin Imranov upset young Cuban featherweight Idel Torriente, just the second of Cuba’s 10 fighters to lose in Beijing.
Word to the wise: Don’t mess with Andrei Aramnau of Belarus.
The heavyweight broke three world records to win his country’s first Olympic gold in weightlifting. He set world records in the snatch, becoming the first man in the weight class to lift 200 kilograms (440.9 pounds); the clean and jerk (236 kg, or 520.3 pounds) and with his total (436 kg, or 961.2 pounds).
The U.S. squad wrapped up pool play a perfect 5-0, beating winless Japan in three sets. This was their second game with coach Hugh McCutcheon back on the sideline. He missed the first three matches after his in-laws were attacked at a tourist spot in Beijing.
The Americans are off to the quarterfinals Wednesday against Serbia.
Australia took first and third, with Emma Snowsill pulling away early in the 10-kilometer run to finish more than a minute ahead of the field. American Laura Bennett finished fourth, less than 30 seconds shy of a medal.
“I’m very pleased,” Bennett said. “I had bike issues somewhere in the middle of the bike leg. I gave everything I had.”
After a morning decision to give Denmark the gold medal in the 49er skiff class ” even though they used a boat borrowed from Croatia ” the regatta continued with Australia taking the men’s and women’s double-handed 470 dinghies.
Medal races in the men’s Laser and the Laser Radial for women were slated for Tuesday. American favorite Anna Tunnicliffe led overall after nine Laser Radial races, seven points ahead of Lithuanian Gintare Volungeviciute and 11 points ahead of China’s Xu Lijia.
Men’s water polo
The U.S. beat Germany and won its preliminary group, earning an automatic berth in the semifinals. The Americans are guaranteed of finishing at least fourth, which would match their best since 1988.
“It’s a great feeling,” captain Tony Azevedo said. “We’re definitely the underdog story.”
The Americans will face the Serbia-Spain winner Friday. There was chatter that the Serbs lost a game to get into an easier bracket ” the one the Americans are in.
“If Serbia gets that far, we’ll be ready for them,” U.S. coach Terry Schroeder said.
Women’s field hockey
No goals. No more Olympics for the U.S. women, who were eliminated after a scoreless draw with Britain. The Americans went 1-1-3, remaining without a medal since 1984. This was their first Olympics since 1996, when they got in automatically as the host nation.
Rami Zur, the only American to compete in the men’s 1,000-meter kayak single, advanced to the semis. He’s much better in the 500-meter race, where he’ll also compete Tuesday.
Also, Hungarian canoers and kayakers wore black armbands to remember Gyorgy Kolonics, a canoeing gold medalist at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics who died last month after collapsing in his canoe while training for the Beijing Games.
The only thing better than one swimmer named Anastasia? Two, of course, especially in synchro.
Russia’s tandem of Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova led the duet technical routine, more than a point ahead of Spanish duo that featured a Gemma and an Andrea.
Using music composed by Elton John, the American pair Christina Jones and Andrea Nott were fifth.
“Our theme was anger,” Jones said. “We tried to get that across.”
China beat Germany 3-0 to win the men’s team event. South Korea got bronze.
The U.S. won team jumping, making it two Olympic titles in a row.